Space Treat: Clutter to Cash


iMacThank you to all who wrote in with congratulations and good cheer regarding my feature in last week’s Daily News! The writer, the photographer and the featured woman, Lisa, were absolutely delightful to be with so I had a blast doing what I love most – digging people, just like you, out from underneath their disorganization.

And since the focus of the article was about turning your clutter into cash, I thought I’d follow up today’s Space Treat and share the best tips for creating a successful listing on-line that sells!

Here you go:

1. Create an account at Craig’s List (referred to as CL from here on out). This makes it very easy to access and edit your listings.

2. Create a “folder” in your email program. Call it “Craig’s List” and use it to manage and store all the emails from potential buyers as well as the original email confirmation from CL.

3. Research what comparable items are selling for on CL. So, if you want to sell your 7 year old iMac G4 but not sure what it’s worth, then just do a search and see what the going rate is.

4. Photograph. CL allows 4 photos but you can have a link to another site like Flickr with more pictures there. It’s important to have multiple photographs that show not only the overall look but also the close-up details. Show all angels not just the front. Photos make the sale so clean up your item to make it as photogenic as possible for the camera and remove any extra clutter from the area before shooting.

5. Describe. Share as many details as you can here like materials, age, origin, measurements, damages, honesty counts here, current condition and price. The more accurate and honest your listing is the better your chances are that they won’t decline when they come to see it. Engage all senses when writing the description and make it personal – use “I” and craft a small storey about the object. With furniture or clothes/fabrics mention that it comes from a smoke-free, or pet-free home if applicable. Include suggestions like, “college kids love these – makes for a great graduation gift” or “very easy to clean and pet-friendly”. Offer a grouping of items – say you have 2 large ceramic bowls and one small one – instead of listing each on separately. List all 3 as one post. So for example, a client has had success by creating a listing for 2 ceramic bowls from Deruta, Italy and writing that she would toss in the third small one for free. Note, if you continue to receive the same question over and over from prospective buyers, edit your listing to include the answer. Only accept cash.

6. Outline the exchange. State what neighborhood the item is in and how you expect them to get it. Will you drop it off, pick up with a door man, should they hire a man with van, is it walk up or elevator building, how heavy is the item, how many people are required to move it or where you would like to meet in public – maybe at a local Starbucks.

7. Contact. How should they contact you. I prefer the anonymous option through CL and then follow up with a cell phone number once you’ve decided to meet. I think you should always get their cell phone number because it’s more traceable than an email that can be hacked or dumped.

8. Post appropriately. See which category most items like yours are listed in and post yours there as well. When writing the subject line, include key search words that buyers would be thinking about and using during their search.

9. Time limits. Set time limits for yourself so that you don’t spend all your free time posting on CL. The posting has a better chance of success if you include ALL the above tips. The trick here is not to agonize over it though. We’re looking for DONE not perfect. If you tend to mull over every detail, then get yourself a kitchen timer and race the clock to get it posted in a limited amount of time. Say 10 or less minutes per post.

10. Delete the listing once sold.

11. Donate it if it doesn’t sell.



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